The newest regulations around the use of mobile phones whilst driving cannot have escaped anyone’s attention but it is important to bear in mind how it how could it affect you as an employer.
What are the new regulations?
It is now an offence to use a hand–held phone or similar device whilst you are driving. Driving is not only whilst the vehicle is in motion but also whilst at traffic lights or sat in traffic.
You could get up to 6 points on your licence and up to a £200 fine. Although most offences will be dealt with by way of 3 penalty points and a £60 fixed penalty notice.
There is also the chance of it proceeding to court though in which case the driver of a car could get up to £1000 fine. If you were driving a bus, coach or any heavy goods vehicle the fine could be up to £2500.
What constitutes a similar device?
A hand–held device is not simply a phone. The definition of a hand-held device is something that “is or must be held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function”.
Basically, if you need to remover your hands from the steering wheel to operate the device then it is classed as hand-held.
This could be a sat-nav, the radio or even hair tongs!
How could this affect my business?
There are a few ways that this new law could affect your business;
- If one of your employees goes over the 12 points allowed on their licence and driving is a requirement of their job you may need to terminate their employment
- If an employee gets points on their licence it could increase any insurance premiums you pay
- In some cases, you as an employer could also be liable as the regulations state that “anyone who causes or permits any other person” to use a hand-held device is at fault. If you have supplied the phone, require them to use the phone whilst driving and have not made provisions for the device to be hand held you could face a fine
How can I avoid issues?
Make it very clear to your employees that there is zero tolerance on hand-held phone use in company vehicles. We would recommend that you update your mobile phone policy to reflect the changes.
If you require your employees to use their phone whilst driving, ensure that they have a Bluetooth or similar device so that they can safely use the phone without the need to press any buttons.
Are there any exceptions to the regulations?
There are not many situations where it would be considered lawful to use a hand-held device.
- If there is a genuine emergency, you need to dial 999 and you are unable to park
- When you are parked and stationary with the engine off
- If the hand-held device is a two-way radio
If you are unsure as to whether you are at risk then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We can help you to identify whether you are adhering to current regulations and put in place legally compliant contracts and systems to minimise the risk to your business.
We will agree a fixed cost for this work with you, depending on how much we need to do. In some cases we can offer you free guidance. For our Watertight HR & Legal clients some of this work may be included in your fees so please ask. If you are not a Watertight client and would like a quote contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0114 3032300.